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Take three guys who have an innate love of singing and an ability to play just about anything with strings on it, and you can start to describe the Canal Street String Band, who are maybe not as well-known on this side of the Atlantic as they deserve to be on the strength of this CD. The line-up is Phil Banaszak, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals; Dave Ruch, mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, banjo, spoons, bones, jaw harp and vocals; and Jim Whitford, string bass, dobro, guitar and vocals. A second fiddle and vocals are added by Gretchen Banaszak on the splendid Beaver Cap for good measure.

The selection of songs and tunes here is hard to classify, as we are treated to, amongst other things, French Canadian music, a sea shanty, swing music, humorous songs and oldtime fiddle tunes. This may sound a bit disjointed in my description but, trust me, the whole thing holds together extremely well, giving a variety which leaves you wondering “well, what can they do to follow that?” But follow it they do, in a way that leaves you wanting more.

The playing is really first-class throughout, managing to be both laid-back and vibrant at the same time, with the crossover of the instrumentation adding to the enjoyment. The singing is joyous and infectious, covering an impressive musical range as well as all the varying styles. Perhaps the only way that such an eclectic collection can work at all levels is that the band clearly loves and enjoys what they do, as well as being very good at it.

Fed up with the lack of a summer this year? Put this on and smile!

Gordon Potter

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Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.